Sinan Keten Honored with Presidential Early Career Award

Keten is establishing materials-by-design approaches to bioinspired systems

Northwestern Engineering’s Sinan Keten has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Barack Obama announced the recipients of the prestigious honor this week.

Sinan KetenThe PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The White House, following recommendations from participating federal agencies, confers the awards. A total of 102 researchers across the country are being honored. Northwestern’s Eric Dahl, Danna Freedman, and T. David Harris are also among the recipients.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” President Obama said. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”

PECASE recipients are chosen “for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.”

Keten is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. Nominated by the Department of Defense, he was selected for his key discoveries on the mechanical behavior of biological materials and fundamental contributions to establishing materials-by-design approaches to bioinspired systems. He also was recognized for his exemplary service in promoting computational engineering education.

“I am honored to be selected for the PECASE award,” Keten said. “This award will allow our research group to create new computational tools to help us understand biological systems and translate what we learn into engineering new materials. Materials design concepts that even simple organisms, such as bacteria, rely on are fascinating. They incorporate all the wonderful things about soft materials we wish to master, such as self-assembly, mechanical robustness and multi-functionality.”

Keten’s research focuses on computational materials science and mechanics with an emphasis on polymer nanocomposites and biomolecular materials. He has established theoretical models and multiscale simulation techniques to study the physics of soft materials more efficiently and accurately.